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The Lear Jet Repo Man
June 6, 2009 8:37 AM   Subscribe


 
Somehow despite the fact that he's repo-ing for banks he kind of taps into that Robin Hood archetype for me.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:43 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read that article last night, and I can't quite bring myself to believe that it's true. What a job!
posted by eschatfische at 8:44 AM on June 6, 2009


> There was just one detail: No one had told Popovich about the heavily armed white supremacist militia that would be guarding the aircraft when he arrived.

The life of a repo man really is always intense!
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:44 AM on June 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


The Repo Man sequel should have been made about this guy. He's an over-the-top loan dude to face down the over-the-top borrowers. He's a loose cannon with nothing to lose. But today, he will face the repo of his life. This summer. Prepare to meet. Super Repo Man.
posted by shii at 8:47 AM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


'You didn't ask for enough money! Send me a new bill but multiply it by three!'

As a freelancer, this made me cum in my pants.
posted by autodidact at 8:53 AM on June 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Popovich's first rule of firearms is pretty simple: The man who tells you he's going to shoot you will not shoot you.

Only an asshole gets killed for a car.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 8:57 AM on June 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Hey kid! Hey!
Are you hard of hearing?
You want to make 10 bucks?
... Wait, you got the wrong idea!
My old lady is real sick.
I got to get her to the hospital, OK?
I can't leave her Lear Jet in this bad area... I need some helpful soul
to fly it for me.
She's pregnant. Twins!
She could drop at any time.
posted by Auden at 9:05 AM on June 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Only an asshole gets killed for a car

I'm glad you live in a society that's policed well enough to make that statement reasonable for you.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:10 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


With due respect, this article really bugged me. It's full of wild-eyed claims of adventure without ever explaining exactly how he does these things. I get the sense it was written by someone who doesn't know much about planes (or dumbed down by an editor of the same ilk), which matters when it's an article about... planes. It throws around the term "jumbo jets" in such a way that it's unclear whether it means 747s or anything bigger than a Lear Jet – and it treats them all the same. (Did he really make off with 1,200 747s?) For all the examples of the guy cloak-and-daggering his way around tarmacs, I still don't know how he actually gets aboard a locked alumnium tube that's ten feet off the ground.

It was all a bit pandering, and not entirely coherent. Unless you can provide a clear breakdown of how this business works - technically and commercially - it's just the writer lovingly taking down this guy's self-aggrandizing war stories (which he tells, of course "without a note of bragging or conceit"). Bleh?
posted by bicyclefish at 9:10 AM on June 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Popovich's specialty is big planes, jumbo jets, mostly; he's repo-ed 1,300 of them in his career

And in every single one was a magic tree air freshener
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:14 AM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow. That article made Janet Cooke look like she was a reasonable and understated journalist.

Did I just read a Clive Cussler novel synopsis?
posted by Drainage! at 9:22 AM on June 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


>: (Did he really make off with 1,200 747s?)

I doubt it, considering Wikipedia says that there's only been 1,416 built as of now.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:31 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Being as there have only been 1416 Boeing 747's built (including all varients, unless I am reading that wrong), then that statistic, at least, is utter bullshit. Unless he has repossessed nearly all of the, of course. Hmmmm.

Presumably either the writer misunderstood, is an order of magnitude out, or has no clue at all what a 'Jumbo Jet' is supposed to refer to. I suspect they meant (for the story to have any degree of truth to it) 'a plane with jet engines'.
posted by Brockles at 9:35 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


ARSES. Serves me right for being too verbose.
posted by Brockles at 9:35 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool.. Nick Popovich's site, Sage-Popovich Inc.

Wow, what stories!

Looks like he's trained his son, Zak, in big game hunting. 38 employees, an interesting job.
posted by nickyskye at 9:35 AM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


it's just the writer lovingly taking down this guy's self-aggrandizing war stories (which he tells, of course "without a note of bragging or conceit").

Here's where my bullshit alarm got triggered:
He wouldn't find his true calling until 1979, when a banker friend asked for his help getting back a Cessna 310 from a small-time chartering business. "I flew down there, grabbed it and got paid for it. I didn't think anything of it," he says. "I dropped off the plane and the guy calls yelling his head off. He says, 'You didn't ask for enough money! Send me a new bill but multiply it by three!'"

A few days later, Popovich found $145,000 in his checking account. A super repo man had been born.
How much of a cut of the value of the goods does one typically get for a repo? The article doesn't say (that would have been some useful information). Is it 20%? Does this look like a $700,000 airplane to you? Even if it's 50%, would this have sold for $290,000 in 1979?

I'm not expecting the article to be openly skeptical, but I would expect an author to express some skepticism about the story while he's writing it in the hopes that he would drill down for more details that would fill in the blanks.
posted by deanc at 9:41 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Only an asshole gets killed for a car

I'm glad you live in a society that's policed well enough to make that statement reasonable for you.


Only an asshole mistakes a Repo Man quote for a philosophical statement in a thread about a repo man.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:47 AM on June 6, 2009 [19 favorites]


The armed neo nazi thugs in South Carolina? with enough dough to swing a jet? must be talking about Blackwater. on preview: Pablo Picasso was not an.....
posted by hortense at 9:56 AM on June 6, 2009


Hi I'm on Metafilter and I can overthink a plate of shrimp.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:00 AM on June 6, 2009 [14 favorites]


Being as there have only been 1416 Boeing 747's built

Well... he could have repoed the same plane more than once... they've got a long operational lifespan
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:17 AM on June 6, 2009


Why would he need to brag, when he has a sycophant?

The engine was behaving erratically, and no sane person should fly a bird with a hinky engine.

Can you imagine this guy telling his children how he met their mother?

He was casing an exotic car company in Chicago when a leonine blond walked in to the dealership. "We all looked at each other and said, 'A hundred bucks for the first guy that nails her"

Stay classy, San Diego
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2009


What that article needs is an LA punk soundtrack.

nice post
posted by caddis at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


All commercial and private planes were grounded, but Nick Popovich wasn't one to turn down a job. So he waited for the storm to clear long enough to charter a Hawker jet from Chicago into South Carolina.

So if this blowhard waited until planes were cleared to fly, what difference did it make that 'all planes were grounded'*?

Between, Nick Popovich's obvious tale-telling and WTF writing like this, I'm wondering if Salon.com has any editorial staff left.

*(no relation)
posted by grounded at 10:39 AM on June 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Does this look like a $700,000 airplane to you?

Maybe it belonged to Sky King. Here's current prices on 310s
posted by Tenuki at 10:51 AM on June 6, 2009


♫ Uuusing my hand for a tray-table ♫
posted by zippy at 11:02 AM on June 6, 2009


Bah, such hate! This is obviously heavily dramatized, but it's still a fun read.

As for the way he does it— from reading the article, it sounds like for the most part, he simply shows up at the right airport with a crateload of legal documents and a flight crew, and flies off before the (ex-)owners can make a stink. Only occasionally does he have to resort to more exciting methods.
posted by hattifattener at 11:44 AM on June 6, 2009


Fuckin' A we ripped your plane, asshole! You wanna know who told us where it was? Your goddamn brother.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:54 AM on June 6, 2009


You can hire SWAT teams? Aren't they law enforcement, and thus not for-hire?
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:00 PM on June 6, 2009


he simply shows up at the right airport with a crateload of legal documents and a flight crew, and flies off before the (ex-)owners can make a stink

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a fair amount of bribing airport staff going on. It's not like you can just start up a jet like a car. The plane needs to be fueled, aviation authorities need to be notified of flight plans, etc. For the most part, his work is probably exceedingly mundane with the errant, infrequent punctuation of threats.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:01 PM on June 6, 2009


You can hire SWAT teams?

In this case, SWAT team = contract security personnel with guns and paramilitary gear. There are many networks through large firms like Blackwater and others that make obtaining this kind of crew fairly easy (with the right amount of money).
posted by Burhanistan at 12:04 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It reads like a Stephen Glass article.
posted by cazoo at 12:21 PM on June 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


He was casing an exotic car company in Chicago when a leonine blond walked in to the dealership. "We all looked at each other and said, 'A hundred bucks for the first guy that nails her"

A leonine blonde, you say?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:28 PM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was thinking more like this.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:00 PM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Plate o' shrimp
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:05 PM on June 6, 2009


The plane needs to be fueled, aviation authorities need to be notified of flight plans, etc

Not for a VFR flight. True about the fuel, though a quick check would be enough to determine whether they can hop to the nearest airport with Jet-A.
posted by crapmatic at 1:38 PM on June 6, 2009


The article says: "Popovich's specialty is big planes, jumbo jets, mostly; he's repo-ed 1,300 of them in his career." which I parsed as him having boosted 1,300 big planes among which most were jumbo jets. If you take a more informal definition of jumbo jets as being all wide bodied air craft over thirty years that doesn't seem totally impossible.
posted by Mitheral at 2:08 PM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]




Count me as more than skeptical about some of that stuff. But I do accept that he would be foolish to publicize in any amount of detail his successful M's.O.
posted by notreally at 3:58 PM on June 6, 2009


Here is Nick's site if you too have a jumbo you want back. There are 75 people in the company according to the site. We have just missed their corporate golf day which is a shame.

I have an acquiantance who once told me about her roll as on-the ground lawyer at the repossession of an Antonov AN-124 cargo plane form somewhere in Ukraine. I wonder if she was working with the same guys.
posted by rongorongo at 4:41 PM on June 6, 2009


> He was casing an exotic car company in Chicago when a leonine blond walked in to the dealership.

Yeah, this struck me as a strange line, too-- "leonine" just seems odd. As others have pointed out, the reporting is star-struck, sloppy, and vague. Still, it's an interesting story-- and if it were more detailed and rigorous, it would probably be even more interesting.

> Did I just read a Clive Cussler novel synopsis?

Or-- remember the name!-- a Marc Weingarten spec script.
posted by darth_tedious at 5:26 PM on June 6, 2009


Here's a more measured piece in the NY Times on a different aircraft repo man.
If any communications devices are missing, that is where his portable radio and GPS device come in handy — so that he can safely fly the plane. No hot-wiring is involved, he said, and usually the only key required is the one to open the door. . . . But he will not fly off, he said, until the plane has a clean bill of health from a mechanic, a process that is more complicated if the logbooks cannot be found. Mr. Hill emphasized that he did not jump into planes after dark and fly away. “I’ll do a thorough preflight inspection and make sure there are blue skies all the way,” he said. “I won’t expose the bank to more problems than it has.”

posted by exogenous at 6:35 PM on June 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


No mention of dine and dash sushi. Must be fake.
posted by ooga_booga at 6:59 PM on June 6, 2009


Good article, thanks for posting it. The piloting skills to fly such varied aircraft are impressive.
posted by Argyle at 6:59 PM on June 6, 2009


deanc: perhaps the Cessna 310 had something on board more valuable than the plane itself, if you catch my drift, and hence the hefty sum Popovich was paid for reclaiming it.

After all, given the nature of this business (repossession of planes), and the fact that the article mentions how the kinds of shady backgrounds among Popovich's staff are what one might expect (CIA, mercenaries, ex-gun runners), it would not be surprising if more than a few of the planes they have repossessed have been used in the drug trade. Kind of like this.
posted by ornate insect at 8:07 PM on June 6, 2009


This is why I park my jumbo jet several blocks from my house. Counts on a lazy repo man, though.
posted by The Monkey at 8:35 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been in the hospital, you see. Did you like the tea?
posted by zinfandel at 9:17 PM on June 6, 2009


I spotted Tracy Walter in a local restaurant two weeks ago, and it took my all to not ask him if he had the shrimp!
posted by Graygorey at 11:02 PM on June 6, 2009


Whoops - forgot to add that we don't have an airport, but we do have a yacht club...

... despite being land-locked....
posted by Graygorey at 11:05 PM on June 6, 2009


I was a teenage dinosaur, stoned and obsolete
I didnt get fucked and I didnt get kissed
I got so fucking dense
Using my head for an ashtray
Now Ill tell you who I am
Im the repo-man
And Im looking for the joke
Looking for the joke
Im looking for the joke with a microscope

posted by caddis at 11:22 PM on June 6, 2009




Why don't you get me a Pepsi?
posted by caddis at 11:28 PM on June 6, 2009


A Push from the left
And a shout from the right.
All come out,
Let's do it tonight.
posted by caddis at 11:38 PM on June 6, 2009


What that article needs is an LA punk soundtrack.

I went back and reread it while listening to Group Sex by the Circle Jerks and yes, it greatly improved the article.

My copy of Group Sex actually has all of the songs on the album, in order, twice- I guess somebody in marketing decided that charging full price for a 15 minute CD was somehow worse than increasing the apparent length of the album by simply doubling up the tracks.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:40 PM on June 6, 2009


El Clavo y La Cruz
posted by caddis at 11:43 PM on June 6, 2009




Let's have a war
So you can go and die!
posted by caddis at 11:50 PM on June 6, 2009


in a sluggish economy
inflation,recession
hits the land of the free
standing in unemployment lines
posted by caddis at 11:54 PM on June 6, 2009


Hombre Secreto

(OK sorry but we can't leave Johnny out of this one, odds are he won't live to see tomorrow)
posted by caddis at 11:59 PM on June 6, 2009


I don't mess around
Know what I mean?



(ok, this one was a toughie, I don't know why as it was a great song)
posted by caddis at 12:16 AM on June 7, 2009


Finis
posted by caddis at 12:19 AM on June 7, 2009


*applauds*
posted by teresci at 8:00 AM on June 7, 2009


I'm glad you live in a society that's policed well enough to make that statement reasonable for you.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:10 AM on June 6 [1 favorite +] [!]


Repo Man quotes, just so people post something else in the thread
posted by eustatic at 11:02 AM on June 7, 2009


Yeah, I've seen Repo Man 3 times. I can't believe I didn't realize that was a quote.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:03 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


only three times? what is the matter with you?
posted by caddis at 9:17 PM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm late to the party, but here's some fun clarification of hazy wording:

Popovich's specialty is big planes, jumbo jets, mostly; he's repo-ed 1,300 of them in his career. And that's just the solo gigs. Throw in the 65 repo men who work for him, and the number reaches closer to 2,000.
...
But Jumbo Jets are expensive -- a 747 will run you anywhere from $125 million to $260 million...


The article refers to generic "jumbo jets" and 747s in specific. According to wikipedia, "a jumbo jet is a term used to describe a wide-body aircraft, most commonly with the Boeing 747." Also according to wikipedia, there are 5 jets which are informally classified as jumbo jets, and someone might have been more lenient with that classification when it came to this article.

There is the chance that they've repo'd the same jet a few times, given the limited quantity of jets in the "jumbo" class, and my uninformed assumption that most are part of airline companies, not in some private/group ownership.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:52 AM on June 8, 2009


They're probably conflating "jumbo jets" with larger jets like MD-80s or 737s that are in use by many private owners.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 AM on June 8, 2009


In fact, the article used to say "707 jumbo jet" and now it says "707 jet".

Funny thing is that they should have just had their "Ask The Pilot" guy fact-check it.
posted by smackfu at 7:56 AM on June 10, 2009


Cargo Ship Repo Man
posted by caddis at 11:46 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


From caddis' article:
In case harbor officials noticed and tried to call for help on their cellphone, Hardberger had paid a witch doctor $100 to cast spells on the port's soccer field. The witch doctor marked the field with gray powder, a clear warning to believers in voodoo, the nation's dominant religion. No call ever went out.
Stylish!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:04 PM on June 17, 2009


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